Kettle Cooking: 5 Delicious & Cheap Hot Meals that Only Require Boiling Water

 

As a budget traveler, eating out at restaurants all the time can add up quickly. I’m all for going out and sampling the local cuisine, it’s part of the travel experience. But I save money by eating street food, which is just as authentic and usually pretty cheap, or treating myself to one or two restaurant meals in each place I visit. So what about the rest of the time? I’ve already written posts about the virtues of Free Food Bins in hostels and Making the Most of Included Breakfasts. Beyond that, I stop in at the grocery store or local market and pick up inexpensive ingredients to make my own meals. I often stay in hostels, Airbnb apartments/rooms, or house sits where I have access to a full kitchen with everything I need to prepare a hearty breakfast to get me going in the morning or a sumptuous dinner after a day out seeing the sites.

Sometimes, however, I end up in an accommodation without kitchen access. A lot of hotels, bed & breakfasts, or Airbnb rooms that do not provide kitchen access do provide an electric kettle. This is ostensibly to make yourself some coffee or tea in your room, but there are actually a ton of really good hot meals you can make with just a kettle! I’m not just talking cup o’noodles here, though that can be an option.

 

How to Use a Kettle to Cook

 

Pack a collapsible silicone bowl and a camping spork. I carry one with a can opener for added functionality. These are all you really need to cook in your room with a kettle, though a multi-tool with a knife and pliers can come in handy too.

 

  

 

Pour boiling water into your dish to rehydrate a prepared meal, prepare a fast cooking product, or thicken a powder.

Heat cans of soup or veggies directly in the kettle. Don’t open them and pour them in. Leave the contents in the can and set the whole thing in the boiling water of the kettle to heat it. TIP: Buy cans with pull tab open lids if you don’t carry a can opening tool.

Use ziplock bags to heat things that don’t come in cans. Seal what you want to heat in a ziplock bag and set it in the boiling water. Make sure the bag is not touching the hot metal coils at the bottom of the kettle. Leave the top of the bag over the edge of the kettle and close the lid on it to secure it in place. I suggest freezer bags for a little added strength and security.

 

 

 

Boil eggs in a kettle. Just place the whole egg still in its shell directly in the boiling water.

Re-boil the water occasionally as it begins to cool off if heating things in the water.

 

5 Scrumptious Kettle Meals

I’ve put together a list of five super tasty hot meals you can make just with boiling water. I’ll give a list of basic ingredients for each. These are all you need to make a simple, cheap version of the meal. If you have a few extra dollars to spend, I’ve also included a list of suggested optional ingredients for each meal. Pick and choose from these to add to the basics depending on your tastes and budget. I haven’t put any amounts. Cook however much you need/want and add sauces/extras to taste!

Each of these meals includes a staple ingredient – couscous, rice noodles, oatmeal, eggs, and soup. I’ve listed some example variations on each meal using the same staple ingredient but mixing up the flavors. This way you can substitute if you don’t like a particular ingredient or cook multiple meals without being bored! Also, I’m a vegetarian, so all of these meals are vegetarian, though you can easily add meat to most if desired.

 

1. Curried Couscous

Basic Ingredients:

*Couscous

*Curry Paste

*Coconut Milk

Suggested Optional Ingredients:

*Can of mixed veggies or individually canned veggies such as baby corn, water chestnuts, pearl onions, and bamboo shoots

*Precooked chicken or other meat

*Silken Tofu

*Dried Cranberries or Raisins

*Sprouts

Directions:

*Boil water in the kettle.

*Place the amount of couscous you will eat in your bowl.

*Add the required amount of boiling water to the bowl based on the couscous instructions.

*Cover the top of the bowl with the lid or a plate, plastic bag, brochure or other make-shift “lid” to keep the heat in.

*Wait 5 minutes or until all water is absorbed and couscous is cooked.

*Add more water to the kettle if needed and heat any tinned food you are adding. Or place any additional ingredients that should be warm into ziplock bags and heat in the kettle (see “how to” above).

*Fluff the cooked couscous.

*Add some coconut milk to the couscous and however much curry paste you need to get the level of spice you desire.

*Add your heated extra ingredients if using any.

*Add any ingredients that don’t require heating, such as sprouts or dried fruit.

*Stir and enjoy!

Variations:

*Personally, I’m a fan of green curry paste, but you can use red or whatever you prefer!

*Substitute the curry paste and coconut milk for your favorite pre-made sauce, such as masala or pesto.

*Substitute the curry paste and coconut milk for curry powder and/or any other dried spices you like.

 

2. Spicy Peanut Rice Noodles

Basic Ingredients:

*Vermicelli Rice Noodles

*Peanut Sauce

Suggested Optional Ingredients:

*Sriracha

*Lime Juice

*Canned Water Chestnuts

*Tofu

*Peanuts

*Sprouts

Directions:

*Boil water in the kettle.

*Place the amount of rice noodles you will eat in your bowl.

*Pour boiling water over the rice noodles until they are covered.

*Cover the top of the bowl with the lid or a plate, plastic bag, brochure or other make-shift “lid” to keep the heat in.

*Wait 5 minutes or until the rice noodles are cooked. Refresh boiling water if needed. 

*Add more water to the kettle if needed and heat any tinned food you are adding. Or place any additional ingredients that should be warm into ziplock bags and heat in the kettle (see “how to” above).

*Drain any leftover water from the cooked rice noodles.

*Add any additional heated ingredients to the bowl.

*Add the peanut sauce and any other flavorings such as lime or sriracha.

*Top with any fresh ingredients such as sprouts and chopped peanuts.

Variations:

*If you can’t find peanut sauce, get peanut butter (I prefer natural with no sugar added) and use sriracha and lime or whatever other flavors you want to spice it up.

*Substitute the peanut sauce for your favorite pre-made sauce, such as masala or pesto, or just use sriracha and lime and some chopped peanuts. Sesame is another great flavor for rice noodles.

*Substitute a packet of Pad Thai flavoring for the peanut sauce.

*If you have access to a fridge, these are also great cold!

3. Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal

Basic Ingredients:

*Oatmeal (quick oats, if you can get them)

*Dried Cranberries (like Craisins)

*Walnuts

Suggested Optional Ingredients:

*Honey, Sugar, or Maple Syrup

*Fresh Apples

Directions:

*Boil water in the kettle.

*Place the amount of oatmeal you will eat in your bowl.

*Add the required amount of boiling water to the bowl based on the oatmeal instructions (basically, just cover the oatmeal).

*Cover the top of the bowl with the lid or a plate, plastic bag, brochure or other make-shift “lid” to keep the heat in.

*Wait 5 minutes or until all water is absorbed and oatmeal is cooked.

*Add dried cranberries, chopped walnuts, and any optional ingredients you want.

*Stir and enjoy!

Variations:

*Try other dried fruit such as raisins, pineapple, mango, papaya instead of cranberries.

*Try other nuts such as almonds, macadamia, or pecans instead of walnuts.

*Try other fresh fruit such as bananas, pear, cherries, or plums instead of apples.

*You can basically add anything to oatmeal – mix and match and be creative!

 

4. Mexican Scramble/Breakfast Burrito

Basic Ingredients:

*Eggs

*Salsa

Suggested Optional Ingredients:

*Cheese

*Guacamole/Avocado

*Tortillas

*Lettuce

*Milk

*Fresh or Canned Veggies

*Jalapeños

*Black Beans (or other beans)

*Pre-cooked Chicken or Chorizo

Directions:

*Boil water in the kettle.

*Crack however many eggs you want into a ziplock bag.

*Add milk if desired and stir until the yolks and whites are mixed.

*Add salsa and any other desired optional ingredients such as cheese or veggies.

*Seal the ziplock bag and add to hot water in the kettle.

*Boil/heat about 5 minutes or until eggs are completely cooked.

*Serve as is, on a bed of lettuce, with fresh guacamole/avocado, beans or meat, or wrap any or all of these in a tortilla for an on-the-go breakfast burrito!

Variation:

*Leave the salsa out of your ziplock bag if you don’t want to heat it and add it to the scramble or breakfast burrito separately.

*Spice your eggs with sriracha or other hot sauce instead of salsa.

*Use other dried spices instead of salsa.

*Forgo latino flavors and make any kind of omelet with the same ziplock bag technique – add whatever veggies, cheese, ham, spices, etc. you feel like!

 

5. Miso Soup with Nori and Tofu

Basic Ingredients:

*Miso Paste

*Tofu

*Nori (Seaweed) Sheets

Suggested Optional Ingredients:

*Onions

*Sprouts

*Water Chestnuts

Directions:

*Boil water in the kettle.

*Chop tofu into small cubes and nori into thin strips.

*Place the amount of miso you will eat in your bowl.

*Add the required amount of boiling water to the bowl based on the miso instructions.

*Add the tofu, nori, and any other optional ingredients.

*Stir and enjoy!

Variations:

*This is basically a fun soup recipe. Soup is just water, flavoring, and some veggies and maybe tofu or meat. You can mix and match as you like or with leftovers from other meals!

*For minimal effort, buy a canned soup to heat in the kettle or a packet of soup powder that thickens with boiling water.

*Bouillon cubes are a great alternative to miso paste. Just dissolve them in boiling water and add whatever veggies and proteins you want.

*Mix up a basic cup o-noodles with miso paste or bouillon cubes instead of the included spice packet.

Isn’t it amazing the hot meals you can create with just a kettle? Try out variations on these five or create your own! Look for foods that cook by absorbing hot water, precooked foods that just need to be heated, canned foods, sauces, powders, and meal packets that only require boiling water. See how good you can eat right in your hotel room with simple cooking and a small budget!

 

*This post includes one or more affiliate links. I earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you!) if you purchase a product or service through one of these links. Find out more here.*

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